Equal Justice Under Law

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"When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just ... you have an obligation to speak up, to speak out and get involved."

-- John R. Lewis
1940 - 2020
Nine Reasons Why The Supreme Court Would Not
Hear Bernofsky's Complaint

Bernofsky's complaint grew out of the stubborn refusal of Helen "Ginger" Berrigan, District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, to disqualify herself when her association with Tulane University was discovered.  Bernofsky's lawyers, who had filed his initial lawsuits against the university, followed by appeals and a Petition for Certiorari — all of which were dismissed — withdrew their representation after realizing the futility of "trying to fight" a biased federal judge.

At that point, Bernofsky filed a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct with the Fifth Circuit Appellate Court, which promptly dismissed it.  He then appealed pro se to the U.S. Supreme Court with a Petition for Mandamus with the following Question Presented for Review:

"Should the United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Honorable Ginger Berrigan, who is an adjunct faculty member of Tulane University and who served on the Board of Directors of a Tulane University Research Center, be disqualified from presiding in cases in which Tulane University is a defendant?"

Tulane, apparently fearing that Bernofsky might have a point, responded with a Brief in Opposition, whereupon Bernofsky filed his pro se Response with the following Question Presented for Review:

"Respondent, Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, has called into question the relationship of the Honorable Ginger Berrigan with Tulane University.  Petitioner, Dr. Carl Bernofsky, by means of the documentary evidence appended herewith, corrects errors of fact introduced by respondent."

The documents in Bernofsky's Response clearly showed Judge Berrigan's university teaching assignments, and further demonstrated how she altered her then-current official judicial curriculum vitae to falsely make it appear that she had already left her association with Tulane's Amistad Research Center at the time Bernofsky filed his first lawsuit against the university.

Without offering a reason, the U.S. Supreme declined to review Bernofsky's Petition for Mandamus.

By now, Bernofsky had employed new attorneys to represent him; but again his new lawsuits, appeals, and Petition for Certiorari were all dismissed.

In a new Complaint of Judicial Misconduct, Bernofsky called for Judge Berrigan's impeachment over her egregious, even pernicious misconduct.  When this, too, was dismissed by the Fifth Circuit Appellate Court despite overwhelming evidence of Berrigan's outrageous behavior, he once again approached the U.S. Supreme Court pro se with a Petition for Mandamus, this time with a somewhat audacious Question Presented for Review:

"Should judges be exempt from investigation and prosecution for commission of past high crimes and misdemeanors in connection with cases over which they presided?"

Clearly, the Supreme Court would have none of this and promptly dismissed the petition, leaving the evidence for others to ponder.  However, it raised the question of whether there was some systemic reason why the justices would be reluctant to hear cases that involve relationships between judges and universities.

A simple analysis of the contacts of the nine justices with universities reveals that both appear eager to establish relationships with one another through lectureships, trips, honors and conference participation.  The nine justices, as are other judges whose participation is coveted by colleges and universities, are prized for the prestige they bring to those campuses and law schools.  That the establishment of such relationships might also confer an advantage to the sponsoring institutions in future legal proceedings cannot be ignored.  Tulane's tribute to Justice Ginsburg upon her death in 2020 exemplifies how a university cherishes its judicial relationships.

A two-year sampling (2016-2017) of such activities in the U.S. and its territories, based on the justices' own Financial Disclosure Reports1 is shown in two accompanying tables:  "2016 U.S. Supreme Court Table of Colleges/Universities," and "2017 U.S. Supreme Court Table of Colleges/Universities."  The tables are supplemented with additional, non-disclosed information obtained from the website https://www.scotusmap.com/ as referenced.  Clearly, the justices took many more trips than are disclosed on their Financial Disclosure Reports.



Comment

The Supreme Court is in session from the beginning of October to the end of June and boasts that, "the work of the Justices is unceasing" even during the summer months.  Nevertheless, the accompanying tables show that the justices attended many school events during their "in session" months, suggesting that absences from the full Court could, in part, explain why so few of the submissions received by the Court are actually accepted for review.  Moreover, the tables do not show the numerous non-school events attended by the justices, which add to their absences.2,3  One proposal to improve the output of the Court is to increase on a biennial basis the number of justices from 9 to 13, a number that approximates the number of federal circuits.4



Endnotes

  1. Disclosure Reports were downloaded from: https://fixthecourt.com/2016disclosures/, and https://fixthecourt.com/2017disclosures/, respectively (accessed 09/12/2020).
  2. See:  Karl Evers-Hillstrom, "Supreme Court justices continue to rack up trips on private interest dime," OpenSecrets News, June 13, 2019, https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/06/scotus-justices-rack-up-trips/ (accessed 09/15/2020).
  3. See also:  Tyler Cooper, Dylan Hosmer-Quent and Gabe Roth, "When Justices Go to School: Lessons from Supreme Court Visits to Public Colleges and Universities," Fix the Court, March 24, 2020, https://fixthecourt.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FTC-public-universities-report-3.24.20.pdf (accessed 08/12/2020).
  4. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, "Judicial Conference of the United States, March, 2017," http://www.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/jcus_membership-march2017_0.pdf (accessed 03/23/2017).


Six Supreme Court Justices Speak at Law School Bicentennial

Six Supreme Court Justices at Harvard

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Associate Justice Neil M. T. Gorsuch (top row from left) stand for a photo in front of the Harvard Law School Library.  Retired Associate Justice David H. Souter and Associate Justice Elena Kagan stand in the row before them. Photo by Derek G. Xiao.

From: Jamie D. Halper,The Harvard Crimson, October 27, 2017, https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/10/27/justices-hls-bicentennial/, accessed 09/15/2020.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.





FIXING THE JUDICIARY

ALTERNATIVE JUDICIAL FIXES

DEFENDING BLOGGERS' RIGHTS

IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES

THE LOCAL PRESS RESPONDS

EROSION OF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY

WARREN'S PLAN FOR THE JUDICIARY

JUDICIARY INSPECTOR GENERAL

TULANELINK'S PETITIONS


ESCAPING JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

DOCTRINE OF JUDICIAL ENTITLEMENT

JUDICIAL IMMUNITY

RULES FOR IMPEACHING A JUDGE

CENSURE JUDGE BERRIGAN

THE END OF JUSTICE

MYTH OF JUDICIAL IMPARTIALITY

CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

GRASSLY BILL FOR JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT

INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR JUDICIARY




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